Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Wine of the Week - Drew Family Wines' Site-Specific Pinot Noirs

Drew Family Wines, located in the Mendocino Ridge AVA, focuses on small lot coastal Pinot Noir and Syrah from Anderson Valley and the Mendocino Ridge. Their wines are all small-production, hand-crafted examples of this coastal growing area. Two of their Pinot Noirs, "The Fog-Eater" and "Mid-Elevation" show the range and clarity this special region gives to their wines.

The "Fog-Eater" is Drew's appellation Pinot Noir sourced from several Anderson Valley sites, bringing them together to express the unique cool climate characteristics of Anderson Valley. As Antonio Galloni, writing for Vinous, says of the 2018 vintage:
"The 2018 Pinot Noir Fog Eater is soft, pliant and wonderfully inviting. Succulent red/purplish berry fruit, mint, spice and floral notes all meld together, with bright saline notes that add energy as well as tension. One of the more approachable wines in the range today, the Fog Eater is absolutely exquisite."
And the "Mid-Elevation" brings together fruit from the Drew Ranch and the Valenti Ranch, two sites that sit at 1200-1500 feet in elevation. From Galloni:
"The 2018 Pinot Noir Mid Elevation is absolutely gorgeous. Finely cut and nuanced, the 2018 is wonderfully translucent and yet, there is plenty of depth too, a combination that is super-appealing in my book. Freshly cut flowers, bright red/purplish fruit, mint and chalk all run through this wonderfully inviting, nuanced Pinot. This is such a classy wine." 

With over 25 years in the wine business in Central and Northern California, Jason Drew brings a vast depth of knowledge and a holistic perspective to his winemaking. Drew focuses on small lot coastal Pinot Noir and Syrah from Anderson Valley and the Mendocino Ridge. For his sourced fruit, he has long standing partnerships with several local vineyard growers who share his passion for sustainable and meticulous farming practices. Single vineyard sources are chosen for their climate, clonal selection and complexity of soil type. Winemaking practices remain focused on traditional methods that include whole cluster and native yeast fermentations, hand punchdowns and no fining or filtering. 

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Wine of the Week - Cesconi Nosiola

This week's featured wine is a true curiosity, in the best possible way. With less than 500 acres planted worldwide, Nosiola is a specialty of the Trentino region in Northern Italy, and if you're going to try a speciality, you should go for the best available interpretation. Hailed by Ian d'Agata of Vinous as "the master of the Nosiola variety in Trentino," Cesconi provides an impeccable rendition of this rare grape.

With its hallmark notes of hazelnut (Nosiola's name is believed to have been derived from the Italian word for hazelnut: nocciola) supported by apple and citrus, this delicate wine is surprisingly complex and shows lively acidity. It's a great way to take a virtual trip to this gorgeous land north of Lake Garda.



Perched high above Trento on banks of the Adige River is the hill of Pressano. In these rugged Alpine surroundings, the Cesconi family tends their vineyards planted to both red and white grapes. The current proprietors can trace their family roots back to the 17th century, and building on more than two centuries of cultivating and producing wine in Trentino, the four Cesconi brothers - Lorenzo, Roberto, Alexander and Franco - as well as their father Paul, continue the family tradition. The family has a deep appreciation and respect for the achievements of their ancestors, however, they seek to build on this history by perfecting the traditional practices of the Domaine. To that end, the brothers work entirely organically in the vineyards and continue to move towards biodynamic methods.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Wines of the Week - The Saint Josephs from J.L. Chave

Wine growers in the northern Rhône since 1481, the Chave family (currently helmed by Jean-Louis) represents 16 generations of unbroken lineage committed to the production of some of the finest Syrah, Marsanne, and Roussanne on the planet. One of the hallmarks of Jean-Louis' tenure will surely be his commitment to Saint Joseph. Rightly heralded for their legendary Hermitage wines, the Chaves' hometown is actually located in Mauves, across the Rhône River. This is the locus of the work that Jean-Louis started decades ago. From "The Search for Greatness in Saint-Joseph Syrah" by Jon Bonné in Punch:
"Why would anyone, much less a luminary like Chave, throw such resources into an appellation known, at best, for making minor versions of the Rhône’s epic syrah-based wines? For one thing, because places like Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie and Cornas have grown so prohibitively expensive that in order to remain viable, the northern Rhône needs other potentially great wines. And, in Chave’s case, there’s a moral importance to making good, affordable wine from less anointed places. But it’s also because Chave, and other high-profile vignerons, like Jean Gonon, see Saint-Joseph as a botched experiment they have the opportunity to fix. This is why Chave, in 1995, began to resurrect Bachasson and other nearby parcels like Chalais, in his hometown of Mauves. To access abandoned land, he had to construct nearly two miles worth of roads. He hired five masons to build or reconstruct terrace walls, replicating the abandoned terraces still found in the hills throughout this corner of the Rhône, in order to plant vineyards on slopes as steep as those found to the north, in Côte-Rotie. He even tends a vine nursery of mass-selection cuttings, to preserve local cultivars—all of it meant to prove that this sprawling appellation, or at least its historic core, deserves a better fate."

Just in time for Easter comes this recipe for garlic-rosemary grilled lamb chops from Wine Spectator courtesy of Chef Michael Velardi. We, and they, can't think of any accompaniment better than a classic Saint-Joseph Syrah, and the magazine has heartily recommended the 2016 vintage of Chave's Syrahs very recently. It sounds like a perfect pairing for Easter Sunday.